A trip isn't a trip until I nearly run out of gas. I was at an eighth of a tank as I turned north on US 81 off of I-70 in central Kansas today. I assumed that there would soon be a gas station.

There wasn't. Although 81 is a big, sweeping four-lane at that point, I went for miles and miles without so much as seeing a billboard, much less a gas station.

As I approached the small town of Minneapolis, KS, I thought sure that there would be a gas station near the exit. I skipped the first exit, which showed no signs of life, and went on to the second. When that exit had no gas station, I assumed there was another exit over the hill. There was not.

The "low fuel" light went on. I knew I had 20 miles in the tank. But there were no stations in those twenty miles. I followed a semi real close so his draft would aid me.

Finally, I knew I was at the end. There was an exit ahead. I decided to take it, since the sign announced a town.

Alas, that town was nine miles off the highway.

So, I pulled into a junkyard. It was an odd place. Dozens of wreckers, some wrecked, some which seemed to be in service. The building was boarded up, and large trees grew out of the foundation--yet somebody seemed to be home.

I rang the bell. There was banging inside. A delay. And then a bleary-eyed teenage girl peeked through the door I asked if they had gas. She said no. She wanted me gone. I said do you know where I could get any? Nope, she said. She turned back and asked a man behind her, and he said nope. She slammed the door.

I think I happened upon an amateur pharmaceutical business. Darn, if I had been quicker on my feet I could have offered them the two sheets of Sudafed in my pickup in exchange for gas.

Instead, I went the a farmstead I spotted up on the next hill.

Knocked on the house door. Nobody home. Went to the shop. Nobody there. Just cats. Yelled "Hello!" repeatedly. Nothing.

Found three fuel tanks. The first one I tried was gas. I knocked twice more on the house door, wrote a note, put down some cash, and drove to the tank. Just a couple of drips came out.

I found the faucet which turned on the gas and was I ever relieved to hear gas gurgling in my tank.

After about a gallon, I slammed the nozzle back on the tank, replaced the cap, jumped in my pickup and roared away. I didn't want to explain. I paid generously for the gallon, and I left my name and number, so I think I am covered. But still, I feel like a bit of a crook. I was relieved to cross the state line.